April Wrap-Up post!

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April has been a quiet month for the most part. I’m still adjusting to medication changes, although that has been slowed down a bit now, so I haven’t felt up to doing much beyond my normal daily stuff. I did go out once this month with my husband, which was fab. We went record shopping on record store day, you can read about that in my weekly wrap-up post from yesterday. My husband collects records in the same way I collect books so our house is getting a bit full with both of our collections but at least we understand each other’s hobby!

In terms of blogging it’s been a good month. I was thrilled to have a few of my reviews from this month move into my most liked posts on my sidebar – and even had the top spot change a couple of times. First SweetPea got there and that was then knocked into the number two spot by See What I Have Done. Yesterday I got a notification telling me that I’d had my most likes in one day ever so that was lovely to read. I don’t obsess over my stats but it’s always nice to have a gauge that my blog is steadily growing as time goes by. I was also thrilled to discover that my review of See What I Have Done has been quoted on the new Lounge Books website, it made my day!

 

Here are the 19 books I read this month:

First Love by Gwendoline Riley

One of Us by Asne Seierstad

Deconstructing Dirty Dancing by Stephen Lee Naish

Good as Gone by Amy Gentry

SweetPea by C.J. Skuse

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

The Power by Naomi Alderman

The Affair by Amanda Brooke

The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett

This Love by Dani Atkins

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan

Luuurve is a Many Trousered Thing by Louise Rennison

He Said / She Said by Erin Kelly

Titanic Lives by Richard Davenport-Hines

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg

The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull

April Blog Posts & Reviews

I managed to write and post eight reviews in April, which isn’t quite the three per week I was hoping to achieve but an average of two a week isn’t too bad. I did also post my regular posts: WWW Wednesday, Stacking the Shelves and Weekly Wrap-Up every week, which I’m happy about. Then I was lucky enough to interview two authors for my blog this month, and I got to feature a lovely author’s guest post. So all-in-all I’m happy with how many posts I shared on my blog this month but I would like to try and get some more reviews written and posted in May if I can.

Here are my reviews from April:

Good as Gone by Amy Gentry

Deconstructing Dirty Dancing by Stephen Lee Naish

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

SweetPea by C.J. Skuse

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

The Affair by Amanda Brooke

This Love by Dani Atkins

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

 

Here are the author interviews I was lucky enough to do in April:

Jennifer Gilmour, author of Isolation Junction

Kay Langdale, author of The Comfort of Others

 

I also featured a guest post on my blog in April:

Lynda Renham, author of Remember Me, wrote a guest post about changing genres for her new novel

 

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The state of my TBR:

The state of my TBR is something I’m starting to wish I’d never shared on my blog as every month I’m becoming more aware of how little willpower I have when it comes to books! I started the year with 1885 books on my TBR (these are all books that I own but haven’t read yet) and as of the end of April I now have 1933 unread books! I’m very aware that the number is going in completely the wrong direction but have so far being quite powerless to stop it.

I joined the Mount TBR challenge on Goodreads a little while ago and challenged myself to read at least 100 books that were on my TBR before the start of this year. I began to realise that I would struggle with getting my TBR reduced (although I am still trying to work on that) so am now trying to at least make sure that I’m reading a similar number of books I’ve owned a while to the new books I acquire. I’ve so far read 90 books this year and 41 were on my TBR before the start of 2017 so I’m happy with that ratio and hope to keep it up.

 


 

How was your April? I hope you all had a good month and that you read good books. Did you read many books? What was your favourite book of the month? Please tell me in the comments, I’d love to know. Also, if you have a blog please feel free to leave a link to your month’s wrap-up post and I’ll be sure to read and comment back. 🙂

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Weekly Wrap-Up (9 April)

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This week I’ve had a quiet week due to not feeling well so I don’t really have anything news to share on here. So on with the books and stuff…

This week I’ve finished reading 3 books:

Good as Gone by Amy Gentry

I read this book in one sitting last week and very much enjoyed it. It was a gripping read and I recommend it. I reviewed it for the blog tour yesterday so you can read my review here if you’d like to.

Deconstructing Dirty Dancing by Stephen Lee Naish

I wasn’t sure about reading this but I decided to give it a go. It was fairly enjoyable but I’m not sure it’s what I thought it was going to be. I’m planning to review this soon so look out for that.

One of Us by Asne Seierstad

I was struggling to read this book so I bought the audio book this week and found it worked better for me on audio. It’s a really tough subject matter but very well-written. I’m possibly going to write a review on it if I can get my thoughts together.

This week I’ve blogged six times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up

Monday: March Wrap-Up 

Tuesday: A guest post by author Lynda Renham on changing genre for her new novel, Remember Me

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post

                   Review of Good as Gone by Amy Gentry

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

How to Survive a Plague by David France

I started reading this a couple of days ago and am finding it fascinating. It’s a long book so I think it’ll be one I’m reading on and off for a little while but I know it’s going to be a book I get a lot out of.

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

I’m absolutely loving this book. I’ve very nearly finished it and will really miss it once I have finished it. I’m on the blog tour for this book this week so look out for my review on the 12 April as part of the tour.

Sweet Pea by C.J. Skuse

I finally had the strength in my hands to pick this back up yesterday and I’ve been engrossed in it for much of the weekend so far. It’s such a good read, I recommend it.

The Power by Naomi Alderman

This is my current audio book and I’m not too far off finishing this one either. I love the concept of the novel and I’m enjoying it but it’s not keeping me hooked as much as I thought it would.

 

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Update on my TBR…  

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1913

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 5

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 3

Books I’m currently reading: 4

TBR Books culled this week: 10

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1914

#BookReview: Good as Gone by Amy Gentry @unlandedgentry @HQStories #BlogTour

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About the Book

Eight years ago, thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night.

In the years since, her family have papered over the cracks of their grief – while hoping against hope that Julie is still alive.

And then, one night, the doorbell rings.

My Thoughts

I was thrilled when I was offered a copy of Good as Gone to review for the blog tour as it sounded like such a gripping read, and I have to say that I wasn’t disappointed. I read this in one sitting as I just got lost in the novel for an entire afternoon!

I’m always intrigued by novels where someone has gone missing and then seemingly returns years later. It’s one of those things that you can barely even imagine and yet it has happened in real life too. In this novel I was immediately curious as to where Julie had been, and if this even really was Julie that had come back. I would imagine that if your child had been missing for all those years and someone who looked just like her came to your door you wouldn’t immediately question if it really was her because you would so badly want it to be. In Good as Gone it felt believable to me that the family accepted Julie back so quickly and didn’t question the situation, but as a reader I was quickly wondering if this really was going to be a happy ending for the family and it really made the book a gripping, rollercoaster of a read that I was so unsure and unsettled by Julie.

As we begin to learn more about Julie and where she might have been in the intervening years and what might have happened to her I found I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the pages, I simply had to know how it was all going to turn out.

My favourite thing about this book was the chapters by all the different people and how each chapter gives a clue and gradually a picture is built up about what has happened. It was great how the reader has much more information than the family and we are there in each setting and trying to understand whether this person was Julie or if that person was, but we also see the family trying to come to terms with what has happened, and they start uncovering secrets that have been held in the intervening years and have to deal with the fallout from that. I found I was trying to put the pieces together from the start and some things I got wrong and others I got right, it was very cleverly written.

I definitely recommend this book – it’s a gripping, absorbing rollercoaster of a thriller that will keep you turning the pages long into the night. Go buy a copy now, you won’t regret it!

I received a copy of this book from HQ Stories in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Exclusive content from Amy Gentry:

What was your inspiration for writing the book? How has working in women’s shelters influenced Julie’s story?

For about a year, I volunteered as an on-call emergency room advocate for victims of sexual assault. When assault victims turned up in the emergency room requesting a forensic exam (aka rape kit), I would dispatch to the hospital to provide in-room advocacy and resources from the shelter. Thus I spent lots of time, often in the middle of the night, with survivors of sexual trauma in the immediate aftermath of their assaults. I was asked by women to sit in the room with them during the forensic exam, even hold their hands. I sat in hospital rooms with students, strippers, mothers, grandmothers, homeless prostitutes, veterans, political campaigners, athletes, you name it. The stories of abused and assaulted women were very real and vivid to me as I wrote the parts of my story that dealt with those topics. I became especially alert to the ways in which victims of these crimes struggle to protect themselves in the wake of trauma, often making choices which might seem to an outsider to be the wrong ones because they may hurt others or lead to the victim herself being retraumatized. Yet I came to understand how important that sense of choice can be for helping victims preserve a sense of agency and personhood that has been violated during the assault. Demanding that victims look or act a certain way, either before or after their assault, is one way we discredit victims and perpetuate rape culture. I also talked to many police and other first responders, and came to understand how flawed and human these professionals are in their own, often biased, responses to sexual assault victims. There is no such thing as a perfect victim, because people behave erratically in the wake of severe trauma; but for some reason we seem to demand perfection of sexual assault victims. This is really the underlying theme I wanted to explore with Good as Gone.

 

About the Author

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Amy Gentry lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two cats. After graduating in 2011 with a PhD in English from the University of Chicago, she began a freelance writing career, writing book reviews, cultural criticism, and, for one strange and wonderful year, a fashion column. She frequently reviews fiction for the Chicago Tribune Printer’s Row Journal, and her writing has appeared in Salon.com, xoJane, The Rumpus, the Austin Chronicle, the Texas ObserverLA Review of BooksGastronomica, and the Best Food Writing of 2014GOOD AS GONE, her first thriller, is set in her hometown of Houston, Texas.

Bio taken from the author’s website: amygentryauthor.com 

 

Follow the rest of the blog tour at these lovely blogs:

Good as Gone blog tour

WWW Wednesday (5 April) What are you reading at the moment?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

What I’m reading now:

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

This is such a great book, I’m really happy to have my reading mojo back after a wobbly few days and to be able to dive straight back into this novel.

The Power by Naomi Alderman

I’m listening to this on audio at the moment and really enjoying it. It really subverts male and female roles, which makes for a thought-provoking read.

Sweet Pea by C.J. Skuse

I’m hoping to be able to finish this book this week. It’s had to be put to one side over the last week or two as I haven’t managed to hold a print book to read but I’m really keen to know how the rest of the novel’s going to go so am going to aim for reading a chapter at a time and see how I cope.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Good as Gone by Amy Gentry

I pretty much read this in one sitting yesterday, it just grabbed me straight away and kept me hooked. I’m on the blog tour for this on Saturday so I’ll be sharing my review then so look out for that.

One of Us by Asne Seierstad

This has been on my currently reading list for a few weeks now but I’ve been struggling to read more serious non-fiction. A couple of days ago I decided to get the audio book version as I thought listening to it might be better for me and I’m glad I did. I finished the second half of the book in just two days. It’s a really hard subject matter but such a well-written book. I originally got a NetGalley copy of this a couple of years ago but I had to DNF it as it wasn’t the right time for me to read it. I then bought my own copy to try again so I’m thinking I may still try and review this.

First Love by Gwendoline Riley

This is such a great read. It’s one of those novels that really got under my skin, and there were parts that made me really uncomfortable and yet I couldn’t stop reading. It’s a book that will really stay with me and I recommend it. I was so pleased that it made the Baileys prize short list this week.

Deconstructing Dirty Dancing by Stephen Lee Naish

I accidentally got this from NetGalley (when I mistakenly clicked on a link in an email from them) and decided I would give it a go. I will review this with it being from NetGalley but I’m not sure that I particularly recommend it as there wasn’t as much analysis of the film as I would have expected.

What I plan on reading next:

Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo

I’ve had this on my review book TBR for a couple of months now and just haven’t felt in the right mood to read it. Hearing the buzz around it now it’s made the Baileys short list this week has made me want to read it asap as it does feel like it could be a book that I will love.

How to Survive a Plague by David France

I bought this with my birthday money last month and have been keen to pick it up ever since. I wanted to finish One of Us first though as having two long non-fiction books on the go at once felt a bit daunting. I’m really looking forward to starting this.

 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Any books you’re looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.

Weekly Wrap-Up (2 April)

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This week has been a bit rubbish if I’m honest. The effects of reducing my pain meds have really kicked in and I just feel horrid a lot of the time. I was meant to be going to a gig in the week with my husband, and we’d had the tickets for ages, but there was no way I was going to manage it. We stayed in and treated ourselves to a takeaway instead, which was lovely but I still wish we could have gone out.

I’ve barely managed to read anything all week – the two books I have finished are the ones I managed to pick up again just yesterday and were books I’ve been reading on and off for a little while now.

I’m going to be starting a new treatment soon, which is more experimental, but I’m going into it with a positive mindset and am hoping that it helps me.

This week I’ve finished reading two books:

First Love by Gwendoline Riley

I found this to be such a compelling read, it really drew me in. Some of the things that happen hit a nerve with me but it’s so well written that even then I didn’t want to stop reading. I love books that make me uncomfortable but still have me under their spell, and this one was definitely one of those. I definitely recommend this.

Hillsborough Untold by Norman Bettison

I didn’t notice who this book was by when it arrived so it was only when I started reading this that I realised. I wouldn’t have picked this up had I have known but once I had the book I was intrigued to know what he had to say. I do think it’s important to hear all sides but in this case, when the police have been held responsible after so many years, it does feel like there’s nothing more to be heard from them that can add anything. Having said that, I do think it’s wrong that officers can take early retirement in order to get out of facing an investigation into their alleged wrong-doing, and that, because the other officers involved did this, Bettison bore more of the criticism in his career. I wouldn’t recommend this.

This week I’ve blogged seven times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Monday: Review of Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Tuesday: Review of The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: A guest post by Mark Stewart, author of The Absence of Wings, all about how he speaks up for the voiceless in his short story collection

Friday: Review of The Trophy Child by Paula Daly

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Good as Gone by Amy Gentry

I just started this book last night and it’s got me hooked already so I reckon, concentration span permitting, that this may be one of those books that I finish in one sitting!

Deconstructing Dirty Dancing by Stephen Lee Naish

This is a really interesting look at the film Dirty Dancing and what the backdrop to the film was in terms of politics of the time it was made, and the time it was set. It’s a short book so I hope to be able to finish it this week.

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

This is a brilliant novel, I’m really enjoying it. I actually missed this book when I had a few days of not being well enough to read this week so I’m really looking forward to picking it up again.

Sweet Pea by C.J. Skuse

This is such a great read. I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t managed to read anymore of it this week due to lack of concentration but also due to horrible lack of dexterity in my hands meaning print books aren’t the easiest to read at the moment. I’m so keen to see where this story is going though so hopefully I’ll be able to get back to it this week.

One of Us by Asne Serierstad

I’ve managed to read a bit more of this over the last week and am really hoping that my brain power will be back to full(ish) strength soon so that I can finish this book. It’s such an interesting book but I wish I could have managed to read it in fewer sittings.

 

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Update on my TBR… 

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1895

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts:  23

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 2

Books I’m currently reading: 5

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1913

 


 

I’m linking this post up to Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer’s Sunday Blog Share.  It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

 


 

How has your week been? What have you been reading? Please share in the comments below. If you write a wrap-up on your blog please feel free to share the link. I’ll be posting my monthly wrap-up for March on here tomorrow so please look out for that! 🙂